Domaine de la Butte
The blood creeps where it cannot go. The hands of Jacky Blot, owner of the beautiful Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis, itched to make red wines as well. Incidentally, he was stimulated by his daughter Anne-Françoise, who is now his active right hand.
Montlouis is too cool to produce vigorous red, so he had to look further downstream for a suitable vineyard, near Chinon and Bourgueil. Blot is completely familiar with the quality of terroir. So he searched for a vineyard on a grand terroir. In this region, the vineyards are higher, on a tuff surface. So not in the flatter part along the rivers, the Loire or the Vienne, where the subsoil is richer due to the presence of river clay - where, incidentally, the soil is easier to cultivate. His eye fell on a beautiful domain in Bourgueil, higher up, almost directly against the forest, which protects the vineyards from the cold north winds. The substrate consists of a thin layer of clay and sand, with directly underneath the layer of tuff, from which the sticks can extract the special minerality of the wines.
Blot bought the domain of 14 hectares in 2002, and also made its first red wine that year. Only from 2003 did he do all the work, also in the vineyard. As in Montlouis, he proceeded to severely limit the yields in the vineyard, to give the grapes a nice ripe and powerful character. The maximum yields for Bourgueil are 55 hectoliters per hectare, but in practice Blot never exceeds 35 hectoliters. In difficult years such as 2008, this is no more than a meager 17 hectoliters per hectare, due to the strict selection required. He achieved this by pruning briefly, and also performing a green harvest when too much is hanging on the sticks during the summer months, according to Blot's liking. The vineyard management is based on 'lutte raisonnée', so with minimal use of chemicals, and only when strictly necessary. The subsoil is left overgrown and only worked by plowing, so that the soil is balanced and alive. Plowing also 'tackles' the superficial roots of the grapes, so that the sticks have to root deeply. Cabernet Franc is exclusively planted in the vineyards.
The vineyard consists of three different pieces, planted at different times. That made him decide to make separate wines from the different plots, each with their own class and character. The grapes are harvested by hand and brought to the cellar in 20-kilo crates to ensure that the grapes arrive undamaged. Already in the vineyard, all grapes that are not perfect, for example because they have been affected by rot, are eliminated. In the cellar, the grapes get a 'Burgundian' fermentation, in large open barrels. Oak is used for the top wines, cement for the base wines. No cultured yeasts are added. This ensures that the wines of the Domaine de la Butte belong to the top of the region, with a beautifully pure and pure character.
The region: Bourgueil
If we drive from Tours along the Loire in the direction of Angers, we will arrive from the 'white' wine regions in the 'red' regions. More to the east we also find some red wines, but more in addition to the white wines and based on 'lighter' grapes, who like cool temperatures, such as pinot noir and gamay. Here to the west of Tours, the red wines are made from a tougher grape, the Cabernet Franc. This grape came here in the Middle Ages, when there was a political union between the Anjou and Aquitaine, where this cabernet originally comes from. This entry has been documented, and it is believed that this happened in 1152. Even in Roman times there was wine growing here, but no Cabernet Franc was used at the time. This grape can flourish here due to the strong influence of the Atlantic Ocean, which allows soft air to flow through the valley of the Loire River and its side branches.
The Bourgueil vineyards are situated on a beautiful, sloping south slope, on the north bank of the Loire, east of Saumur. Half of the vineyards are located on the hill, with a tuff base, which also gives their class to the other regions such as Vouvray. The other half of the vineyards are more in the river valley, on sand and pebble terraces that have been deposited by the Loire over the centuries. The wines of these lower parts are lighter and simpler in structure than those from higher up the slope. At the top of the slope is a wooded plateau that protects the vineyards from cold north winds.
Bourgueil is one of the larger 'red' wine regions of the Loire region, with a vineyard area of approximately 1400 hectares. Of this, 70,000 hectoliters of wine are made, 2% of which is rosé. Bourgueil wines are known for their particularly good storage properties. Naturally, this applies specifically to the wines from the tuff soil. The ones from the river valley have a fruity and supple character and are intended to be enjoyed young. Long live the fruit and freshness of the Cabernet Franc!